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Meghalaya Govt to codify traditional laws

By Raju Das

SHILLONG, June 17 � Meghalaya State Law Commission would codify traditional laws and practices to empower traditional heads to dispose off minor disputes at the village level.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that with a huge backlog of court cases, traditional heads can dispose off minor disputes at the village level, once the traditional laws and practices are codified. Sangma said the traditional heads would function under the purview of Para 4 of the Sixth Scheduled of the Indian Constitution.

However, wherever applicable the Indian Penal System would be used. �We are talking in terms of minor issues that can be settled through intervention of traditional heads so that people need not always run to the police stations,� Sangma added.

In Meghalaya, under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, there are three district councils having power on myriad issues such as forests, tax collection, etc.

At the village level, Rangbah Shnongs (Khasi-Jaintia Hills) and Nokmas (Garo Hills) are the traditional heads having various rights and powers. But, there were instances of traditional heads transgressing their authority.

�Certain laws would be incorporated so that information can be sought from the traditional heads, while codifying the traditional laws and practices,� Sangma added.

Sangma clarified that traditional heads would function under the purview of the Indian Constitution and would also be accountable as per law. �They were just being given mandate to settle minor disputes. We are in the process of hiring persons of repute in the Meghalaya Law Commission so that the codification process can begin,� he said.

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